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Discipline / Investigations

Unionized? You may be able to use progressive discipline to address some forms of harassment


If your organization is unionized and operates under a collective bargaining agreement that calls for progressive discipline, think twice before automatically firing an employee you believe has sexually harassed other employees. Unless your contract specifies discharge for a first harassment offense, you may have to follow your progressive discipline program.

When supervisors leave subordinates in tears, don’t hesitate to demote or fire them


Some people aren’t cut out to be supervisors. Too bad employers don’t always realize that until a steady stream of subordinates make their way to HR with complaints. If it appears obvious that there’s a problem with the supervisor and not his subordinates, document the complaints and take action.

Cobra, bitten by lawsuit, pays for sexual harassment

Delray-based construction companies, Cobra Pavers & Engineering and Cobra Construction have agreed to pay $125,000 to settle sexual harassment charges brought by women who worked in the firms’ offices.

Log misconduct or worker could get unemployment


When you discharge an employee for misconduct, she theoretically isn’t eligible for unemployment compensation because the employee’s own poor behavior is what caused her dismissal. But you can’t be sloppy when you document the misconduct. Take the time to investigate before you terminate.

Bulletproof anti-harassment policy by ensuring employees know how to lodge their complaints


It’s been over a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court laid down the law on what employers need to do to prevent and cure sexual harassment. That’s long enough for complacency to have set in. By now, some employers may have started taking sexual harassment less seriously than they did when the court first ruled. That’s a potentially costly mistake.

Spot supervisors’ hidden bias by monitoring daily stream of info flowing into HR


Is a tendency toward discrimination hiding within your management ranks? If so, you may be courting real trouble. You need to ferret it out as soon as possible. But how? Obviously, few supervisors will openly advertise their bias. But you may be able to spot it in the reams of information that routinely flows into HR.

Minneapolis lawyer faces prison time for fraud

Michael Margulies, a former partner at the Minneapolis law firm Lindquist & Vennum has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting in court that he had embezzled $2.5 million from the firm and its clients. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

School leader accused of creating hostile environment


The Farmington School Board is investigating one of its own. The board recently voted to investigate member Tim Burke to see if he poses a potential liability. Several board members have accused Burke of treating administrators disrespectfully, burdening them with unnecessary data requests and making unfounded accusations against them.

Teacher took 5-year leave to go embezzling

State law allows teachers with five years on the job and 10 years’ experience to take up to five years of unpaid leave if the school board approves it. For one former Minnesota teacher and athletic coach, that was a deal too good to pass up.

Investigation points back to employee who complained? It’s OK to punish her, too


If an internal investigation reveals that the employee whose complaint launched the process was also engaged in improper behavior (or was, in fact, the person to blame for the situation), don’t hesitate to punish appropriately. As long as you act in good faith, a court is unlikely to conclude the punishment was retaliation for complaining in the first place.